Flowery Branch — A declaration: I wouldn’t have taken Matthew Stafford No. 1 overall. I say this as someone who saw his first collegiate pass (against Western Kentucky) and his last (against Michigan State) and several hundred in between. He’s a great talent, but I don’t think he’ll be a great NFL quarterback.
I thought he was a very good college quarterback, and there’s no doubt he fits the NFL prototype as well as anyone ever has — he’s smart, he’s tall and he has, as the world knows, that big right arm. My reservations have nothing to do with anything physical. My reservations regard attitude.
I see Stafford as a guy who too often tried to get by on the strength of that big arm and who threw too many killing interceptions as a consequence. (See Florida, 2008.) I see a quarterback who wasn’t so much a team leader as a solo act. More to the point, I’ve never seen in Stafford the attention to detail that you get with Peyton Manning or Tom Brady or, yes, Matt Ryan.
Not long ago I described Stafford as diffident, and I’ve since wondered if I misused the word. So I looked it up yet again — you can, too, by going here — and I’ve decided I didn’t. For all his gifts, Stafford is indeed reserved and unassertive. (And I mean in his demeanor, not as it pertains to his big arm.) I’ve never gotten the feeling that losing gnawed at him the way the Ole Miss game got to Tim Tebow.
And yes, those with long memories will recall that I wrote last fall that Stafford would outplay Tebow in Jacksonville. I was wrong. (Fancy that!) But it wasn’t so much that Tebow did anything extraordinary that day — he would subsequently do the extraordinary in the SEC title game against Alabama — as he avoided the Big Mistake. Stafford thew an interception (on first-and-10 from the Florida 30) when Georgia trailed 14-3 in the third quarter, whereupon the game fell apart.Sorry, there are no polls available at the moment.
No, you cannot blame Stafford for Georgia’s three defensive collapses last season. But in three years of watching him I’ve never sensed he grasps the sensitiviy of his position. He can make all the throws, yes, but too often he tries to make one throw too many. He’ll throw into triple coverage or fling it off his back foot, and because he has the big arm he’ll sometimes get away with it. Sometimes, alas, he won’t.
If you’re the 0-16 Lions, you need a quarterback who can make plays. (Actually, you need everything.) But if you’re ever going to get good, you’ll need a quarterback who can manage games. I’m not sure Stafford can do that at the NFL level. He’s not Jeff George — he’s a better guy than that — but I do see in Stafford the same overrating of one big arm and the same underrating of football’s nuances.
There, I’ve said it. Perhaps you disagree. That, conveniently enough, is why there’s a comment box below.
I’m not going to lie. I’d love to see the Falcons take a defensive tackle in Round 1, and I’d prefer that tackle to be Evander Hood, who goes by Ziggy, of Missouri. But at this point I’m willing to grant Thomas Dimitroff the benefit of every doubt.
As UGA B wrote on the ol’ blog yesterday: “If I went to dinner with the guy and he told me to try the sea bass, I’d try the sea bass.”
And guess what the Falcons are serving for the media lunch/dinner? Sea bass!
(Kiding. According to publicist Frank Kleha, we’ll be dining on roast beef au jous and potatoes of some sort. I’ll save y’all some!)
I had my plan. I was going to listen to Sirius NFL Radio all the 51.4 miles it takes me to drive to Flowery Branch. But before I could switch over, “Medicated Goo” by Traffic was playing on Deep Tracks. Then came “The Loner” by Bernard Shakey. Then “Bouree” by Jethro Tull.” It was only after I hit Spaghetti Junction and Wishbone Ash came on that I flipped over. At which point …
The guys on “Press Coverage” were talking about — you guessed it — Stafford, and Lions fans kept calling in and griping about his contract, which calls for $41 million or $78 million or some number in between. Stop me if you’ve heard this already, but Detroit is in an economic slump. And a No. 1 pick making that kind of money going to that particular city is going to have to overcome a lot of negativity.
Then again, Ryan had more than a few folks to convince when he came here. But I say it again: Matty Stafford isn’t Matty Ice.
This from Sporting News Today, which offers a projection on every pick in all seven rounds. Here’s who SNT has the Falcons taking: